For this edition, we sat down with Dan Lambert, owner of Lambert Tile & Stone, Inc. in Gypsum, CO. Lambert, a Certified Tile Installer with the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), is also a National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Five Star Contractor who sits on the NTCA Methods and Standards Committee.
How did you first get involved in the industry?
Lambert: I started in the tile industry in my teens working as an apprentice for my uncle in Artistic Brick and Stone Masonry. This led me into tile where I was hired to do punch list/repair work and soon found out what was and was not acceptable or sustainable, and which methods work and which don’t and why. Once I learned the proper methods, I never looked back and was soon contracting my own work and learning as much as I could.
What were some of the reasons for starting your own business?
Lambert: Together, with my wife Elizabeth, we own and operate Lambert Tile & Stone, Inc. in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado. After being on my own and making a reputation for myself in our area, I needed to expand in order to take on all the work that was available to us, which is why we started our business. We decided to hire employees so that we could train them properly in order to be able to sleep at night knowing we have always done the best job possible. Our goal was to create the most passionate, educated, professional tile contracting team in the Vail Valley. We are very proud of what we have accomplished and our company motto is, “You are only as good as your people.”
Has the tile industry changed much since you first started?
Lambert: I have seen and experienced many changes in the tile industry in the past 25 years. Technology has been the largest contributor to these changes. Installation methods have evolved to keep up with the product manufacturers’ new materials and it is exciting to see 3D imaging on porcelain tile that can replicate just about anything, which expanded the use of the porcelain tile.
Is there a particular job you’ve completed that stands out? Why?
Lambert: Recently, we completed a new high-end residential home that incorporated more than 3,400 square feet of gauged porcelain tile panels in various colors throughout the home. The installation material manufacturer reached out to us after we placed a large order of their product and asked to come to Colorado to observe our installation as a field study and share all their knowledge with us. This is what partnering in this industry looks like. The master bathroom really stood out to me, as the walls consisted of 5- x 10-foot tiles, while the floor featured a 3/8- x 3/8-inch mosaic. The vastly different sizes of tiles used represent the evolution in the tile industry.
What are some steps you take to educate your customers about their tile installation before you begin?
Lambert: We start educating our clients with our estimate and point out any considerations that should be given to the tile selections they made. We explain that consideration should be given to who is most qualified to perform the specified scope of work. We explain the importance of knowing and following the TCNA Handbook’s field and installation requirements.
If you could lend any advice to professionals just beginning their careers, what would it be?
Lambert: Educate yourself, join associations like the NTCA, attend workshops at your local tile stores and attend the classes offered at the tile conventions, such as Surfaces and Coverings. Take the CTI test with the CTEF and become a Certified Tile Installer. Network with other tile installers. Make friends with your local installation materials reps. This will help set yourself apart from your competition.
If you or anyone you know is interested in being featured in a future edition of the “Contractor Spotlight,” please email Heather Fiore at firstname.lastname@example.org.